Over the last few months I have been doing some research with our clients to find out how many of them actually have goals, how many write them down and how many actually achieve their goals. The feedback was actually quite interesting. The results were that very few people actually write their goals down… so why does this actually occur? Simply because people believe that deciding they want to achieve something in their mind is enough.
There are a lot of urban myths and propaganda around university research that says that people who write their goals down actually achieve their goals at a greater rate than those who don't write their goals down. In fact I have heard one of two tales where scientists surveyed a class in 1953 in either Yale or Harvard and found that 3 percent had written their financial goals down and that when the class had a reunion in 1973 they found that 97% of them had achieved their goals.
Like all urban legends there is a lot of discussion on the internet as to whether this makes a difference or whether it is just the gurus trying to build legitimacy to the products that they are selling and in reality this is probably a fair comment. Whether or not the legends are true or not, there is logic as to why we tell people to write their goals down in a certain manner.
For the last ten years I have been an adult educator in Australia and one of the things we ask our students to do is to write down notes and tips as we instruct our classes. The reason for doing this is that we know that within 7 days, if they have not written something down or reviewed the material they will lose 50% of the knowledge they have gained from the class. Wait another 7 days and you lose 50% of the 50% and so forth. This means within 6 weeks you will remember very little of the material covered.
Now if you look at this in conjunction with your goals, the same thing occurs. If you don't write your goals down and review them regularly then guess what, you are going to forget about your goals and this is why there is an element of truth in these urban legends. The reality is that with the pressures of day-to-day life, most people either forget or give up on their goals.
The key to writing your goals down is to specify them in detail with clear objectives, dates and times of achievement. Once you have done this, you need to review the goals daily and say them out loud. This reinforcement will help program your mind to maintaining your focus on the goal.
Some people will say that they don't need to write them down to achieve their goals and this is absolutely a fair statement. However, for the majority of the population this will lead to not achieving your goals. There are a number of Olympians that I have met over the years who have told me their stories and most of them have decided very young that they wanted to compete in the Olympics. The key thing with this is that their thoughts of competing are front and centre all the time from a very you age and due to that commitment they can get away from writing that goal down.
So for those of us who do not have this level of commitment, writing the clearly formatted goals helps us to create that level of commitment on our subconscious mind. In the end the bottom line is this, try it out and see if it works for you.
Never take any guru's word that something will or will not work with blind faith. Simply test it out, try it and then see if it works for you. I reckon you might be surprised at the outcome.
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Chris Le Roy is the Managing Director of the One-on-One Professional Business Training Centre. Our company provides a range of career development and business courses to help you develop your goals, career and more. Our company also provides first aid courses to help ensure you have that qualification when you apply for your next job.
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